Hidden Water Circle Keepers
All of our Healing Circles and Systems Circles are facilitated by Hidden Water Circle Keepers. Circle Keepers are not leaders in the conventional sense because Circles lead themselves and have their own wisdom. Circle Keepers are charged with managing the ground rules according to each Circle’s agreements and holding the space for the Circle to find its own voice.
Elizabeth is a social worker at heart. She has always been interested in the intersection of social work and the law. To that end, she attended Columbia University School of Social Work where she graduated with a Masters in Social Work and a Minor in Law. She immediately went to work in the field of conflict resolution and has been practicing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) since 1997. She has founded three programs in conflict resolution (of which Hidden Water is one) where she serves as Board President. With the aim of offering truly affordable, binding conflict resolution services to small businesses and their clients, she also founded and continues to run the Small Business Arbitration Center. Elizabeth is also the principal trainer at Planning Change, whose mission it is to educate and empower individuals to affect meaningful change in the conflicts around them. In addition to those endeavors, Elizabeth also works as a mediator, a coach, and a shaman, and speaks regularly at events and conferences.
LTomay is a native of the Bronx. She became an advocate for life, mental health and anti-violence after her recovery from multiple traumatic events, which inspired her to become living proof that overcoming adversity and embracing self-worth is possible. LTomay graduated from Fordham University with a Master’s in Social Work. Her experience in various nonprofit agencies and as a Ministerial counselor lead her to get her CASACT certification so she could meet the needs of the whole person. Her commitment to leaving her community in a better state than she found it parlayed into obtaining certification in Restorative Justice Practices and Mediation. Over 15 years after her healing journey began, LTomay is deeply passionate about helping others and transforming lives. Currently an Adjunct Professor at MCNY and an Instructor at Recoveries R Us Inc, she is also the founder of Brand Me Beautiful Inc, a consulting and training agency with a focus on “Restoring Justice to the Human Spirit” and is a co-founder of WORTHshop Inc, a nonprofit to “Affirm Worth. Change Lives”. LTomay is passionate about meeting people on both sides of pain because she believes recovery is not an exclusive event; but rather it is inclusive for all who are willing to do the work, even those who have caused harm.
Brandon’s career as an activist for LGBTQ+ rights and equality began when he came out as a gay man in 2007. He took part in the National Equality March in 2010 to repeal DOMA and support marriage equality and served a two-year term in the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. Since moving to the tri-state area, Brandon has become a Planning Change certified mediator and circle keeper with a focus on continuing to help his community and individuals heal from sexual trauma. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Eugene Lang The New School of Liberal Arts, and spent his academic career focusing on the intersection of trauma and the psychology of men and masculinity. Brandon is also a Usui Reiki practitioner (certified in 2013) and a professional photographer.
Brian has been a student of change for almost five decades. Since his freshman year in college he has intentionally engaged in social, organizational, and personal change. This experience has taught him two critical lessons that serve as a foundation for all his work. First, all change is personal; organizations and societies only change when the people in them change. Second, there are universal patterns of how people respond to changes in their lives; knowing and understanding those patterns significantly increases the likelihood of successfully moving through even the most disruptive changes. Brian is an ICF-certified coach and is the founder of TransformingLives.Coach, where he works with individuals, couples, and teams as they face changes in their personal and professional lives. Brian also shares his years of learning through workshops, webinars, and writing.
Vivianne is the Director of Social Work, Mitigation and Client Services at the Federal Defenders of New York in the Eastern District of New York. She has been a social worker in criminal and civil defense for over eleven years. Vivianne began working in public defense as a Social Worker at the Bronx Defenders, where she worked with clients charged in domestic violence and mental health courts. While working towards her Master’s in Social Work, Vivianne conducted street outreach at The Bowery Residents’ Committee where she worked one-on-one with persistently homeless individuals on the streets and in the subways of New York City. Vivianne is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW) and holds a certificate in Restorative Justice and Restorative Circles. She facilitates restorative circles for the Federal Defenders, the Criminal Justice Caucus at CSSW, and for non-profit organizations and community members. Vivianne is also an adjunct professor at CSSW and a co-teacher of the first restorative justice class at CSSW.
Michelle has been a practicing mediator and trainer since completing the Planning Change Certification program in 2013. In her private practice she mediates cases from separation and divorce to small business disputes. Michelle was trained in Non-Violent Communication ten years ago and came to alternative dispute resolution after fifteen years working in equity research at bulge bracket investment banks, and primary research/expert networks. In 2014, Michelle trained with Kay Pranis in the indigenous practice of Peacemaking Circles. Her work as an alternative dispute practitioner builds on her varied life experiences, management positions and successful careers in finance and as an entrepreneur.
Emily is a passionate restorative justice practitioner, mediator, activist and healer. For the past three years, Emily has been working from all angles across New York City to elevate restorative practices. She previously served as the Restorative Justice Coordinator in an East Brooklyn public school for two years, working to build socio-emotional support structures for students and reduce the school's reliance on punitive measures. Emily is a certified criminal court mediator with New York Peace Institute, and most recently, the Program Coordinator of Young New Yorkers' art-based court diversion programs for justice-involved youth. She is currently pursuing a license in clinical social work from The Smith College School for Social Work. Emily believes community-based, innovative responses to conflict can transform and heal our deeply broken systems. She integrates an intersectional lens of race, gender and class to her Circle facilitation at Hidden Water.
Chris believes in restorative dialogue as the key component to holistic healing. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree and is currently employed in the service industry, where he has the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life. Chris has experience in group therapy as a participant, as well as over 13 years of practice as a therapy facilitator. He has learned that there can be no life change without resolving conflict and building relationships. He believes that valuing all inputs leads to a full understanding of the dynamics of abuse and results in restorative outcomes for the family and community. Chris’s philosophy is that all human beings have more in common than not, and he believes that safe havens of nonjudgmental forums for free expression are needed to stop silent suffering and promote healing.
Anne Marie has been facilitating group processes to address harm and hurt for many years. As a social worker and community development coordinator she used Circle processes to support people with traumatic brain damage return to their families and communities after long periods of hospitalization. Employed as a workplace counselor, Anne Marie was first on the scene when organizations were shaken by traumatic or violent events, offering psychological first aid and critical incident debriefing to groups and individuals impacted by harm. She has conducted many community and workplace conferences using Circles of Support and Restorative Conferences as powerful processes to repair harm, restore relationships, and settle on meaningful reparation. Anne Marie believes strongly that using a structured conversation supported by a transformative process gives power back to groups and communities so that together they can set things right, allowing true healing to happen and people to move on. Anne Marie has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.
Clara first made her presence known in Nelson Mandela’s new South Africa, representing a pathway of freedom and strength to women wounded by mental enslavement. She attracted worldwide attention by shaving her head for the international campaign of the United Colors of Benetton. She has broken barriers of image by being the first woman of color to appear on the cover of Britain’s Health and Fitness magazine. Clara is also an athlete and holds records in Canada in track and field to this day. Now a mother and a spiritual teacher, Clara wishes to impart her deep knowledge and gift of healing through sports medicine. She has developed a unique method of training which integrates a format of Sports Medicine, Martial Arts, medical Qi gong, sound healing, meditation and indigenous healing practices. Her own personal story of overcoming trauma is paramount to her existence in creating a more humanistic, holistic way of healing the body, mind and spirit. Clara’s core belief is that everyone has the capacity to heal and her life’s work is to assist people in unlocking their own hidden power. radianthealthandwellnessinc.com
Sethu Laxmi Nair seeks to generate personal and social transformation by addressing and repairing harm in relationships and developing creative responses to conflict. Sethu is a mediator, coach, and peacemaker. She spends her time shaping and managing conflict responses for New York City government employees at the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution, facilitating Healing Circles at Hidden Water and supporting her family, friends and community. Over the last 15 years, Sethu has supported various human rights and social justice organizations in New York and India. She has worked on family matters, small business disputes, nonprofit staff and board challenges, community discord and has provided conflict and leadership coaching. Sethu holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from SUNY Purchase and a Master’s degree in Economic and Political Development from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
Felise is a mediator, lawyer and small business owner who has learned to embrace her tendency to lean into certain places where many tend to shy away, namely: conflict, trauma, and change. In a prior life, she worked in corporate fraud investigation and forestry law, governance and trade. In her current life, she is a dedicated practitioner of Vipassana meditation and laughing at herself. Felise holds a B.A. in Economics from Barnard College, Columbia University, an M.F.A in creative writing from Brooklyn College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. She is a certified mediator, who acquired extensive practical mediation experience while starting and running her own business, a small eco-hotel on Phu Quoc Island. She is fluent in Vietnamese and passionate about cultivating the human capacity for forgiveness and moral repair.
Glen serves as a board member for Hidden Water and has been a restorative justice practitioner since 2011. Glen has conducted circles in schools and communities throughout New York City. He worked at New York Peace Institute for over three years where he most recently held the position of Restorative Justice Manager, overseeing NYPI’s delivery of restorative practices in matters referred from the criminal and juvenile justice systems in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Glen received his B.A. in Philosophy at SUNY Purchase and his J.D. and LL.M. (Dispute Resolution and Advocacy) at Cardozo School of Law, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.
Laurent is excited to help build bridges within families that have been damaged from sexual harm, as he already works to build bridges as a construction worker in NYC. He is new to restorative justice practices but brings a wealth of experience from his personal life. He has been held accountable and takes responsibility for the harm he has caused and is eager to pass his knowledge along to others in Purple Circles as a Circle Keeper. Laurent believes that Circles allow people who have caused harm to come to terms with what they have done. From Laurent’s own experience in Circle, he has seen that people can hold themselves accountable and responsible and do the healing necessary to make the changes they need to prevent themselves from causing any more harm to others, allowing them to live a fuller and happier life with dignity. When Laurent isn’t building bridges at work or in Circle, he is either riding his motorcycle or taking care of his rescue dog, Steve.
Manorah has a background in Human Development and a passion for healing workplace conflict. More recently she has focused her career in Alternative Dispute Resolution. She has immersed herself in various trainings including mediation with The Center for Understanding, Employment Law Arbitration with Cornell University and Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles with Planning Change and Kay Pranis. Currently Manorah is a practicing mediator focusing on employment matters, and finds great fulfillment facilitating Hidden Water Circles.
Bonnibel (she/her/ella) is a Latinx educator passionate about gender justice, the fight against gender violence, (im)migration, equity and community-led movement. She is Puerto Rican of Dominican descent and comes from many homes: Puerto Rico, New Orleans, DC, Queens and has a special place in her heart for the ‘Nordeste’ of Brazil. Bonnibel was first introduced to circle practice, mediation, and community work at Centro Corona (formerly known as IMI Corona), where she served her two years of Public Allies Americorps. It was Centro Corona's elders, indigenous leaders and intergenerational community that allowed her to grow into her practice. It was through this work that she first connected with Hidden Water in 2017. Currently, she works as a College Coordinator at Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a young women's and gender expansive youth organization that aims to center their empowerment and joy. Bonnibel loves to dance, craves chocolate, loves reading and learning more about Afro-Latinx history, music and dance. Bonnibel holds a BSFS from Georgetown, where she studied International Politics with a concentration on Women’s and Gender Studies in 2015.
Tammy is an educator and a mediator. She focuses her mediation on family businesses with multi-generational conflict. She volunteered with the Police Department's Domestic Violence Program by supporting victims when they arrived at the Police station . In 2017, she trained in Restorative Justice, after years of searching for a support program for sexually abused children and their families.
Eric is a private practice Psychotherapist trained at Boston College. He is also a Founder of Quantum Warrior, an organization dedicated to healing the wounded masculine heart. Through both one-on-one and group work, Eric facilitates a conscious exploration of self, other and culture by bravely diving into the vulnerability of our individual and shared humanity. Eric received training in Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework at the Trauma Center in Boston. Additionally, he was trained in yoga therapy at the 2015 Trauma Center Summer Institute and is a certified Tai Chi Instructor through the Tai Chi for Health Institute. Eric is presently working on a joint venture with the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab developing a podcast, Men’s Reckoning, holding innovative conversations designed to explore the possibility of masculinity as pro-social, adaptive and a scalable construct. He is also a dad, son, husband and movement enthusiast of many kinds. The ground of all his work is in a deep interest of the spiritual, cultural and scientific.
Julia works at the intersection of the anti-violence movement and the movement to end criminalization and the punishment system. Inspired by the idea that ultimately the universe will not allow us to dispose of anything or anyone, Julia is committed to understanding ways we learn to exile others and vital parts of ourselves in the face of harm - harm against us and harm we cause - and intolerable experiences of shame. She is grateful to have found Hidden Water at a critical moment of personal reckoning with the limits of old ways of surviving and the need for openness to new ways of relating to self and others. Julia believes that, ultimately, it is experiences of vitality, abundance and resistance to domination that transformative relationships and the continuous repair of divisions within our hearts, minds and bodies can emerge. Julia has a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University, is the Director of the Criminalized Survivors Program at STEPS to End Family Violence, is an unapologetic sassy gay/angry (but tender-hearted) dyke who refuses to fix her face for anyone, and is an organizer with Survived and Punished NY.
Deborah is an academic and licensed therapist currently teaching at Columbia University in the Narrative Medicine Department. Her recent work focuses on how healthcare is delivered in contemporary culture, including wellness trends and end-of-life issues. Deborah holds an M.S. in Narrative Medicine, M.S. in Neuroscience, and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Before pursuing an academic career, she spent ten years in litigation consulting, researching how people make decisions in complex matters, developing trial strategies and assisting with jury selection. Deborah is passionate about using narrative as a tool for education and transformation, including bringing difficult/taboo topics into the light.
Justin is an experienced mediator, restorative justice practitioner, attorney and advocate for alternative dispute resolution systems for courts, communities and schools. Justin supervises the Civil Court and Community Mediation Program, for the Mediation Center of Dutchess County (MCDC). In addition, as Restorative Justice Specialist, he is heavily involved in all aspects of the MCDC Restorative program, including trainings, direct services, and system-wide implementation for schools. Justin is certified in mastery mediation and mastery of peacemaking circles with Planning Change, and has completed advanced mediation trainings with the New York State and New York City bar associations, the NY Unified Court System, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the NY Center for Interpersonal Development, and worked with the Southern District of NY's Mediation Office in US District Court. He is currently training as member of the the NY Unified Court System's Restorative Practices Fellowship in collaboration with the NY State Education Department. Justin serves as board member and treasurer for Hidden Water and the Association for Conflict Resolution - Greater New York Chapter. Justin received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2010 and B.F.A. from California College of Arts & Crafts in 2003.
Holly is a healer and intuitive empath, both of which help greatly with her ability as a Circle Keeper. Holly is greatly connected with nature which allows her to continue to understand her divine calling and purpose for healing herself and others in this world. Part of her divine calling is to help people of all ages realize their inner worth and abilities by using positive mindset shifts to begin their own healing journey. Holly has her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from SUNY Fredonia and is a certified Circle Keeper. She has helped develop Restorative Practices in schools, where she believes a cultural shift must take place to build community and resolve conflict. Holly also spends her time teaching high school students the fine art of mathematics. Holly’s passion is to build community and connectedness to the people around us that are placed in our lives for a reason. She believes that each person we encounter in this journey can be looked at as either part of our healing or here to teach us a great lesson in life that will continue our progress. For Holly, we are all connected and all part of the bigger circle of life.
Every Circle Keeper has participated in at least one 12-week Healing Circle and completed a Restorative Justice Circle Keeping certification, which is offered twice a year through Planning Change.
All Circle Keepers volunteer their time and consider this work an act of service which also furthers their own continuing healing, enabling the circle of healing to continue. For more information, see FAQ, What is a Circle Keeper? →